How to Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer Using Essential Oils

Hand sanitizer? A year ago, you couldn’t pay me to put that stuff on my skin. I would watch in horror as I witnessed colleagues and students in the Kripalu School of Ayurveda dousing their hands and feet with the stuff after yoga. I scoffed at the goop and its unappealing ingredients.

That is, until flu season 2020 hit. I went down hard, and I mean hard! I was at a point where I was contemplating taking a medical leave. I’m now a convert: I carry hand sanitizer in my work bag and purse. But I favor the natural products—or even better, a DIY version.

Essential oils to the rescue! Young Living and doTERRA both have blends that have been shown to ward off pesky bugs of all kinds. On Guard®, doTERRA's product, is a fusion of virus-fighting wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary oil. Young Living manufactures Thieves® essential oil blend with identical ingredients, save for lemon in place of wild orange.

This is a mythically potent and powerful formula dating back to 1413, the era of the bubonic plague, known as the Black Plague. Legend has it that while the plague was running rampant throughout France, four grave robbers were caught stealing from numerous plague victims. Despite their intimate contact with the plague, these men did not fall ill. Intrigued, the prevailing judge questioned the thieves about their secret. Turns out the men were unemployed perfume and spice merchants, out of work due to the closure of the seaports. Together they had brewed a formula that, when applied to the hands, temples, ears, feet, and a mask over the nose and mouth, rendered them invincible. A lucrative endeavor, until they got caught.

Due to the disclosure of their treasured formulation, the judge agreed not to burn the men alive, which was common practice in the 1400s; rather, they were hung for their crimes. With the formula in hand, the judge bestowed this powerful armor to the remaining doctors. From that day forward, whenever treating a patient with the plague, the doctors would sprinkle “thieves oil” on their hands, feet, temples, and ears, and insert a cloth infused with the oil into a creepy beak-like mask. Bleak but fascinating!

To craft your own hand sanitize, fill a 15-milliliter spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and add 25 drops of On Guard or Thieves oil. (Rubbing alcohol contains 70 percent alcohol by volume, which adheres to the CDC guideline that hand sanitizers must be at least 60 percent alcohol.) Carry this spray with you as your protective shield—and don’t forget to wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water for 20 seconds, and avoid touching your face. Stay healthy: Eat your plants, sleep, exercise, and enjoy life!

Lauren Gernady is the Academic Coordinator of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, and a 500-hour Kripalu Yoga teacher.

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